On MTV’s The Hills After Show, host Jessi Cruickshank delivers a waggish critique of the L.A.-based reality series. Before her ascent to MTV, Cruickshank (BA 2004 Innis) studied drama and English at U of T. She dishes to writer Lisa Rundle on The Hills, her thespian dreams and how the Backstreet Boys played games with her heart.
An alien comes to Earth and you have to explain The Hills. What do you say? Part of me wants to say: “Alien, have you heard of Seinfeld?” Because it’s another show about nothing. It just follows this girl Lauren who’s moved to California to get into fashion. Rich girls. Living in L.A. Boys. Jobs. Drama ensues.
It’s meant to be a reality show. And on your show you dissect each episode. Is this what you thought you would be doing with your degree? No! Absolutely not. I was aiming for “great legendary theatre actress.” I certainly didn’t anticipate when I was studying the works of Shaw that I’d end up talking about The Hills for a living.
And yet, a background in drama seems fitting. It’s true! I use my training every day.
Do you prefer high-art drama or cat-fight drama? Shakespeare, Albee, The Hills … they all resonate with people. I don’t know what that says about us as a culture. Something went askew there.
What does it take to be a great MTV host? I’m still trying to figure that one out. I just try to stay as true to myself as possible. I never want to be that “phoney-reading-a-teleprompter” girl…. But I’ve put my foot in my mouth so many times, it’s ridiculous.
You realize I’m now hoping you’ll do it again here. Don’t worry, I’m probably saying things I shouldn’t be already.
Oh good. Thanks. Do you still get nervous interviewing stars? I recently interviewed the Backstreet Boys. They were my childhood heroes…
Now that’s embarrassing. See! This is something I want to admit, though, because I’m sure there are others out there who had a similar love of the BSB or equally embarrassing pop-culture icons. Before the interview I dug up all my creepy BSB paraphernalia – including a Tupperware container I’d Mod-Podged with magazine photos of the boys and then, disturbingly, pasted my own face over other girls’ faces in the pictures. Even though at this point in my life I see it as a bit of a joke, I was still so nervous to meet them. I was sweating profusely.
A U of T lab is working with actors, writers and directors on how they could harness AI and other emerging technologies to generate new ideas and – just maybe – reinvent theatre